2008 US Open – Men’s Breakdown – Top 10

Once again, Nick’s Picks along with Tennis Week and CBS Sports will bring you live coverage of the US Open from New York City. We begin today with the breakdown of the Top 10 Men. Check back everyday for insight leading up to the Open and then throughout.

Top 10 Ranked Players

Rafael Nadal (ESP)
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 188 lbs.
D.O.B: 06/03/1986
Turned Pro: 2001
Rank: 1
Plays: Left-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Beijing Olympics, Wimbledon, Canada, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Hamburg, Queen’s Club, and Roland Garros
2007 US Open: Fourth Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Nadal has had the best year of his career in 2008, including winning the Olympic Gold Medal! For the first time in his life he comes into a Grand Slam as the #1 player in the world, and without question he has played better tennis than anyone on tour this year. Historically, the US Open hasn’t treated Nadal very well, as in the past he has been tired and slightly injured. His results show no indication that that will be the case this year.

The courts in Flushing are definitely not as fast as in Cincinnati (where Nadal lost in the semis), and that will be to his benefit. He has already shown that he can win a big tournament on the hard courts with his victories at the Masters Series event in Toronto and the Olympics. This is a different stage though. The New York fans love a character like Nadal, and you can be sure they will be screaming and yelling for him after every point. With that said, it will be very interesting to see how he deals with the pressures of being #1 in the world.

Roger Federer (SUI)
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 177 lbs.
D.O.B: 08/08/1981
Turned Pro: 1998
Rank: 2
Plays: Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Estoril and Halle
2007 US Open: Champion

Nick’s Thoughts:

For the first time in what seems like forever, Federer comes into a Grand Slam not ranked #1 in the world. I don’t think anyone could have predicted this at the beginning of the year, but here we are at the US Open and Federer has yet to win a Grand Slam. Back in January people were talking about Federer winning the Golden Slam (all four Grand Slams and the Olympic gold medal), and now if he doesn’t win this he will be shut out in 2008. Amazing.

Despite all of this, I don’t think there is anyone who would tell you that they would be surprised to see him raise the trophy for a fifth straight year. If he finds his stroke again, cuts down on his unforced errors, and serves like he has been thus far he will be in very good shape. Don’t count the Fed out yet!

Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 176 lbs.
D.O.B: 05/22/1987
Turned Pro: 2003
Rank: 3
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Rome
2007 US Open: Finals

Nick’s Thoughts:

Djokovic hasn’t won a title since early May, and that is something to keep in the back of your head. He reached the finals in Cincy in July and at Queen’s Club in June but came up empty both times. In Cincinnati, Djokovic played some of his best tennis I have ever seen in his win over Nadal. His ability to take the ball early and put it away with a clear winner is as good as any player on Tour.

The 2007 US Open is where Djokovic made his breakthrough, showing the world that he could get to the finals of a Grand Slam. He then took it one step further earlier this year by winning the Australian Open. Now, to be thought of as one of the greats he needs to win a second Grand Slam title. His chances are good, but he simply cannot afford to lose his focus for one second (including talking to the media or doing impersonations!)

David Ferrer (ESP)
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 160 lbs.
D.O.B.: 04/02/1982
Turned Pro: 2000
Rank: 4
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: s-Hertogenbosch and Valencia
2007 US Open: Semifinals

Nick’s Thoughts:

Last year Ferrer reached the first and only Grand Slam semifinal of his career. He beat Nalbandian and Nadal before falling to Djokovic in the semis. He is going to need a similar performance this year to keep his ranking high. He can play on any surface, and has the ability to run down just about every ball and execute a winner.

He played in Canada and Cincinnati during the US Open series, and won a total of one match in those two events. He then went to Beijing and lost in the first round of the Olympics to Serb Janko Tipsarevic. This is not a good sign, but his performance last year should be a confidence builder.

Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
Height: 5’10″
Weight: 154 lbs.
D.O.B: 06/02/1981
Turned Pro: 1999
Rank: 5
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Miami, Poertschach, and Warsaw
2007 US Open: Semifinals

Nick’s Thoughts:

Since winning the title at Warsaw back in June, Davydenko has a record of 1-3. The only tournament he didn’t lose his first match in was the Masters Series event in Canada. For the last two years Davydenko has had the same outcome at the US Open: beat Tommy Haas in the quarters and lose to Federer in the semis. I know you won’t see Davydenko complain (or display any other emotion) if he reaches the semis this year, but now he has to be thought of as one of the best players to have never won a major.

Andy Murray (GBR)
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 175 lbs.
D.O.B.: 05/15/1987
Turned Pro: 2005
Rank: 6
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Cincinnati, Doha, and Marseille
2007 US Open: 3rd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Although Murray lost in the first round of the Olympics, just prior to that he picked up the biggest title of his career at Cincinnati. Beating Djokovic in the finals is no easy feat, and he showed great mental toughness throughout that match. If he continues to play like that, he could be a real contender. With that title, Murray jumped up to a new career high of #6 in the world.

Murray is a player that I really enjoy watching. He is tough as nails, can hit almost any shot in the book. His serve has improved and so has his mental approach to the game. Right now I would say that he is playing some of the best tennis of anyone on the tour.

David Nalbandian (ARG)
Height: 5’11″
Weight: 175 lbs.
D.O.B: 01/01/1982
Turned Pro: 2000
Rank: 7
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Buenos Aires
2007 US Open: 3rd Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Nalbandian is a former semifinalist here (2003), and he also reached the quarterfinals back in 2005. Until the Olympics, he hadn’t played since Wimbledon which doesn’t bode well for his chances on the hard courts in New York.

It is hard to predict what you are going to get with Nalbandian, he is up and down and hot and cold. In no way would I be surprised to see him around in the semifinals, and at the same time I wouldn’t be a shock to see him fall early. At this point in his career he is a bit of a mystery.

Andy Roddick (USA)
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 195 lbs.
D.O.B: 08/30/1982
Turned Pro: 2000
Rank: 9
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: San Jose, Dubai
2007 US Open: Quarterfinals

Nick’s Thoughts:

For the first time since August of 2006 Roddick is ranked lower than #8 in the world. He has been hampered by a shoulder injury that forced him out of the French Open and then popped up again in LA in early August. He skipped the Olympics to focus more on the US Open, but then lost in the quarterfinals at Washington.

The last two years Roddick has run into Roger Federer late in the tournament (quarters in 2007 and finals in 2006), and both time he has come up empty. Obviously, the hard courts are Roddick’s favorite, but with that shoulder being a question who knows how he will fare this year. He will give the NY audiences everything he has and then even more!

James Blake (USA)
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 183 lbs.
D.O.B: 12/28/1979
Turned Pro: 1999
Rank: 8
Plays: Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: None
2007 US Open: 4th Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Blake has had more success at the US Open than any other of the Grand Slams. He advanced to the quarterfinals in 2005 and 2006 and then lost a tough five setter in the fourth round last year. He is one of the few guys on tour that has played a lot of tennis during the summer months. He reached the semis in Indy, the quarters in Toronto, lost in the third round in Cincy, and just advanced to the semis at the Olympics.

Beating Federer in the Olympics is a very positive sign. Blake hadn’t been playing his best tennis before then, so any indications that his game is coming around is a welcome site. Let’s hope it translates into a great performance in New York.

P.S. The crowd loves to see him play in New York, especially the ladies!

Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 174 lbs.
D.O.B: 03/28/1985
Turned Pro: 2002
Rank: 10
Plays: Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: None
2007 US Open: 4th Round

Nick’s Thoughts:

Wawrinka has had a breakthrough, reaching the top 10 and playing solid tennis throughout. He suffered a minor injury in Toronto, but appears to be healthy enough to play. I like his physical brand of tennis, because he forces his opponents to be ready to fight!

Despite his success this year, Wawrinka has yet to win a title in 2008. While I think he is more than capable of making some noise, I don’t know whether he can be a real challenger here. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on top 10 players, and we will have to see how he holds up to it.

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~ by Nick's Picks on August 19, 2008.

2 Responses to “2008 US Open – Men’s Breakdown – Top 10”

  1. nick, as always i appreciate your thoughts. i would be interested in your dark horses (men and women) for the open.

    thanks

  2. did you see the breakdown of the “Others to Watch”, check that out for some other players…

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